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Around the NFC

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 18, 2002

BEARS: Jon Hilbert helped his cause Friday against the Rams, converting his first field-goal try of the preseason from 33 yards. No. 1 kicker Paul Edinger was good from 42 yards and wide right from 46. But Hilbert's niche is kickoffs, and he put on a show. Edinger's three kickoffs went 56, 67 and 64 yards. Hilbert sent each of his three kickoffs to the goal line or deeper: 71, 72 and 70 yards.

COWBOYS: The team has targeted Saturday's matchup against the Falcons as a dress rehearsal for the season, which means a longer look at veterans and starters. That means time is running out for those trying to impress the coaching staff and earn a roster spot. "There's not a lot of time for these guys and that should be on their mind all the time," coach Dave Campo said. "You're trying to find out the guys that can win the one-on-one battles at this particular time with the pressure on them."

FALCONS: The team is struggling with injuries at linebacker. Will Overstreet (shoulder) did not play in Saturday's win against the Giants, and his replacement, Artie Ulmer, left the game with a sprained left knee.

GIANTS: The Giants have gotten erratic play from their special teams, but coach Jim Fassel said he thinks that is about to change. "I've just got a hunch that we're going to play better," he said. "I think we've honed in, done a better job with individual drills, kicked it up a couple of notches yesterday. I think the learning curve has got to be kicking in about now."

RAMS: Wide receiver Terrence Wilkins could miss up to three weeks and the Sept. 8 season opener because a rib injury, coach Mike Martz said. Wilkins was injured in a pileup after returning a punt Friday night in the Rams' 19-17 preseason loss to the Bears. "Terrence looks like he'll be out 2-3 weeks," Martz said. "In terms of having him for the opener (at Denver), who knows. ... It's an unfortunate deal. It was an accident. Those things happen."

REDSKINS: New coach Steve Spurrier brings a reputation of crafting offenses to employ the pass before the run. Pro Bowl tailback Stephen Davis, the first player in franchise history to have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a row, says he's not worried about his output. "I'm pretty sure things will improve," said Davis, who enters tonight's game against the Steelers with seven carries for 15 yards in two brief preseason appearances. "It's the preseason. You can't really get into a groove as far as the running game. But I think we'll be pretty good at it once the season starts."

VIKINGS: The team was in a good mood after beating the Bills on Friday. Defensively, Minnesota gave up 134 total yards and allowed the Bills to convert one of five third-down chances in the first half. "We're not looking to be world-beaters or anything like that," coach Mike Tice said. "We're realistic. We know we have a young football team. We just want to try to get better each and every week."

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